How To Choose The Most Profitable Online Advertising Channels

By Ted Parry 2 February 2019 12 minute read
Are you a small business owner, or part of a small in-house team that is aiming to grow their business with online advertising? If so, this guide should give some good insight into what digital advertising is, the different types you should consider, and how to go about choosing the ones that work best for your business.
  • Intro To Online Advertising
  • Types of Online Advertising
  • Online Advertising Examples
  • How to Pick The Best Channels
  • Customised Online Advertising Channels

Intro To Online Advertising

Before we go headway into this article, it’s always good to understand the key difference between marketing and advertising. Marketing is defining the process of the whole business offering which includes branding, customer profiling, defining core USP (Unique selling points) and competitor analysis. It would be well advised that you get all the initial marketing and branding of the business complete before undertaking advertising, because if you don’t know who you’re targeting, and why they should buy from you, any advertising will fall flat on its face.The next step is to decide what your budget is, and which channels you’re going to use to reach out to your target audience. Unfortunately, a lot of business owners fail because they start will a small budget, if one at all, and rely on ‘free’ social media traffic and SEO. As the old saying goes you have to speculate to accumulate, and the best way to reach your market is by advertising via a targeted approach. 

Types of Online Advertising

Below are some of the core channels you should be considering, as your options to get started with online advertising.

Paid Search (Pay Per Click)

Paid search (also known as pay per click) is one of the most well know digital advertising channels, and one that can be scaled quickly if you get it right. Billions of searches are undertaken on Google and Bing everyday, and some of them are your customers searching for your product or service. Paid search helps you to get in front of those customers by showing your ads in the search results for keywords that you can cherry pick. Two key benefits to pay per click are:
  1. You only pay when a prospective customer clicks your advert.
  2. You’re reaching an audience that is in ‘buying mode’. E.g. if someone searches for “hotels in Venice”, it is pretty obvious what they are looking for.
Some industries that absolutely need paid search as a core element of their advertising strategy are the likes of e-commerce and travel. Other instances where paid search is highly effective are high margin businesses, seasonal businesses or ones with really niche searches.One silo of paid search that the majority of e-commerce businesses should be on is Google Shopping. Its visual nature, and the ability for showing your prices means that retailers with beautiful unique product photography and competitive pricing should definitely consider this channel.Google Ad ExamplesGoogle Shopping Examples

Paid Social

Social media has come on leaps and bounds in the past ten years, gone are the days of getting into arguments with your friends because they didn’t put you in their top 10 on Bebo, or updating your Myspace skin. Since 2008 Facebook has dominated, and continue to do so with their very intelligent purchase of Instagram, other acquisitions such as Oculus Rift (Virtual Reality) continue to put them in a strong position for the future.As of writing this article Facebook has over 2.32 billion active users. That’s around 30% of the world population, safe to say it’s very likely your target audience is browsing right now. In addition to this, Instagram has over 1 billion active users and is still growing at a scary rate.Other social media platforms that need to be considered are Twitter which continues to introduce new features. This can be a great platform if you have short snappy advertising messages that can be conveyed quickly via image or video. If you have a campaign you hope to go viral, this can be a good platform choice.LinkedIn is often not discussed much when it comes to advertising channels, however if you run a B2B business or have a service-based business it can be an effective channel as you can target audiences by their profession or seniority. LinkedIn has also recently introduced carousel ads which offer a new way to get in-front of target audiences. The main draw of LinkedIn is the fact you have targeting options other platforms don’t have such as job title targeting.Facebook Ad ExamplesTwitter Ad Examples

Display Advertising

Display advertising has often had a bad rep in the past, as many business owners have been using it wrong. When display advertising first got launched, many marketing functions thought it would be an easy access way to get quick sales. However, the real way to view display advertising is by realising it services two core functions:
  1. Raising your brand awareness
  2. Increasing trust of existing prospects (thus increasing conversion rates).
There are many brands that utilise display advertising to increase brand awareness, and encourage users to search for their brand, or products within their range. An effective display advertising strategy will increase brand searches over time, thankfully this can be tracked by brand bidding on ppc and reviewing your organic search data for keyword impressions.Even though your potential customers may not be in a position to buy now, by being in front of them with targeted display advertising, your service / product will be top of mind when they’re in a position to buy .A subset of display advertising is remarketing. This is the process whereby a customer visits your website, leaves and you gracefully remind them with your brand or offer. Remarketing is particularly effective in industries where there is a long buying cycle, or where customers are price sensitive and may need an offer to push them.For E-Commerce businesses that generate a lot of traffic, dynamic remarketing can be a very effective solution.Display Ad ExamplesDynamic Remarketing Examples

Video Advertising

Video advertising is a channel that continues to flourish in 2019. The rise of video is heavily influenced by the growth in social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram heavily pushing video as a format. Video enables a brand to tell a much more in-depth story than any image ad is able to do. In fact some stats have shown that enjoyment of video advertising increases purchase intent by 35%.The main platforms for video advertising is YouTube. Pre-roll ads is one of the most popular ad formats, and you’ll often see them before watching the main video. One of the core advantages to Video advertising are the cheap cost per views. Simply put if your advert evokes an emotional reaction you can reach a vast amount of people for a very low amount.

Affiliate Marketing

Ever got to the end of the checkout and wanted to see whether the retailer has a voucher code? Yep we all have. However, if they don’t and one of their competitors have a code for 15% off, chances are you’ll buy from the competitors. That’s exactly what prospective customers could be doing to your business right now.In the UK two of the biggest networks are Affiliate Window and TradeDoubler. These networks enable retailers to get access to a vast amount of blogs and deal sites that can help to entice the customer over the line.The great thing about affiliate marketing is the fact you only pay once the affiliate generates a sale. E-Commerce sites can take advantage of social media pages, cashback / voucher code websites, and software can take advantage of blogs. If you have customers searching for product xyz reviews and you stock it, ensure you have the opportunity to get in-front of them.

How to Pick The Best Channels

Now that we’ve been through the who, what and where of digital advertising, the next step is to really define a process of selecting the best channels to work with. Every business that’s getting started with online advertising will have to accept there is always speculation involved. However, that’s not to say a good process wouldn’t undercover which ones are most likely to set you off on the right foot.

Step 1 - Understanding Your Audience

One of the first things you need to understand is who your audience is, and where they’re likely to hang out. This was mentioned at the start of the article where marketing must really do its bit defining the customer and proposition.One example is a retail business that sells flowers online. Why do people buy flowers? Mainly for occasions such as valentine’s day, birthdays, pregnancies etc. In most cases people will be searching Google for terms such as ‘Birthday flowers next day delivery’, people want to know what the flowers look like most importantly, and pricing is also an important factor. In this instance the first channel I would recommend is Google Shopping.If budget warrants and another channel is thrown into the mix then paid Instagram ads would be next in line. The visual nature of the platform, and the fact there are ample targeting methods around life events would mean it’s likely the target audience could be reached cost effectively. 

Step 2 - Initial Research

Once you’ve really broken down who your audience is, and how you may persuade and reach them, the next phase is research. Research allows you to understand what your audience is searching for/interested in, how many of them you can reach on a monthly basis, and how much it will cost to reach them. In the digital age, there are two winners when it comes to preliminary research, and that is:
  1. Google Keyword Research
Google keyword research is the process of discovering what your potential customers are searching for, and building campaigns around them. One of the best ways to kick start this process is to use Google Keyword Planner, and input your website. Why do that? The answer is simple, Google already understands what your website is about just by scraping the content. It then uses this information to suggest keywords.What you can do with this research:
  • Estimate average monthly searches
  • Estimate monthly clicks to your website (by using an average click through rate)
  • Estimate the average cost per click
  • Estimate the average clicks per month based on a certain budget
  • Estimate monthly leads based on a certain budget and your current conversion rate
With those estimates, you can already get an understanding of how far your money will go, even before running the activity.2. Facebook Audience AnalysisFacebook's interest platform is broken up into three main segments:DemographicsThis includes things such as education, financial, life events and work such as employers and job titles.InterestsInterests are broken down into various categories such as business, entertainment, family & relationships, shopping and fashion etc.BehaviourBehaviours include categories such as anniversary, financial, soccer, travel and purchase behaviour.Having a really good understanding of your audience will ensure you target the right categories. Facebook will give you insights into how many users you will reach per day, and your estimated link clicks. This will enable you to calculate costs when you set your maximum cost per clicks. 

Step 3 - Competitor Analysis

Understanding what your competitors are doing is extremely powerful. This information can be applied to improve your PPC or paid social campaigns. If a competitor has been running an ad for a while, or is spending a lot on certain keywords, chances are it would work for you too.One of the first and best options when it comes to competitor research is SEMRush. SEMRush enables marketers to see exactly which terms your competitors are bidding on, what ads they are running with, their landing pages and if they are doing any display advertising. This is an important tool in your arsenal as it will give the insight into what your competitors are running with before starting any Google ads. 

Step 4 - Split Testing

At this stage you know who your customers are, you’ve got an idea where they hang out, and you’ve got a list of targeting options available. As a small business the likelihood is you’re running with a limited budget, potentially a marketing spend of mid four figures to low five figures for the year. This means understanding which channels work is imperative before you burn through your cash.One of the most efficient ways to do this is to undertake a marketing split test. This is the process of discovering which marketing channel provides the greatest initial ROI, then re-investing your money into that. Generally speaking, for most businesses, the goal is to break even after 3-6 months of activity.  Don’t forget, your competitors have been running Facebook or Google ads for years, learning, optimising, testing. Unless you have a supremely differentiated product, or an amazing brand presence, the chances of getting their results after a couple of months is extremely low.Below is a table showcasing an example marketing channel split test over 3 months:
ChannelSpend RevenueCost of Sale
Facebook Ads£1567£4,13538%
Google Shopping£1612£5,98427%
Although the above is a basic example, immediately you can see that Google Shopping is showcasing favourable results compared to Facebook. Depending on the budget of the business, it may be well advised to take some of the advertising spend from Facebook and re-invest into Google. Once Google has been close to max/ starts to get inefficient on additional spend, that’s the time to invest additional spend into the likes of Facebook (pun intended :p). 

Step 5 - The Future: Optimisation and Expansion

Once you’ve started seeing fruitful results from your digital advertising activity, don’t think it stops there. To stay ahead of the competition, you need to continually be tweaking, refining and testing your activity, otherwise your profitable channel becomes stagnant and expensive. Below are a few things you need to ensure you stay on top of:
  • Optimising Keyword Bids
  • Updating Ad Schedule
  • Device Optimisation
  • Demographic Optimisation
  • Remarketing Lists
  • Budget Optimisation
  • Updating Ad Copy
  • Updating Landing Pages
  • Find new keywords / interest criteria
  • Discovering new marketing channels
Digital advertising can be amazing once you get to the tipping point and you get it working. Some businesses have scaled to multi million pound enterprises by levering the correct channels

Next Steps

If you’re at the stage where you need to get digital advertising working for your business, or you need to take your campaigns to the next level Amore Digital can help. I’m a digital advertising consultant with over 6 years’ experience, and have worked on brands such as Simply Be, JD Williams, Osprey London, Lending Stream, Woolovers as well as many more.Areas Amore Digital can assist:
  • Setting up Google Analytics and relevant goals
  • Google/ Facebook Audience Research
  • Setting up efficient campaigns
  • Auditing existing campaigns
  • Managing campaigns and sustaining & improving digital performance

How to get in touch:

Number: 0151 676 0193Email: the link below to fill out the application form to receive a proposal and I will schedule a kick off call, and send over a proposal that includes custom pricing, and a roadmap of which channels will be targeted and how they will be improved.

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